Country Music Reclamation Project: Lorene

I read a statistic this week that a quarter of teenagers today have sexted another; that is, they’ve “shared sexually explicit photos, videos and chat by cell phone or online.” The speed at which we can communicate now is not only immediate, but is faster than common sense can keep up with. Technology has yet to perfect the means to pull back a poorly considered, quickly composed thought.

I’m sure text-messaging kids would be fascinated to learn that, just a few decades ago, people wrote letters, and the wait for a response may have been weeks or months. Not all letters composed were literary masterpieces, but they required a measure of effort and, sometimes, much consideration went into the choice of every word. You didn’t always have a lot to say, but you had to imagine how each word would be received.

Love letters were even more difficult. Finding the right way to say something, or to ask something, when you couldn’t read the look on the recipient’s face was far more daring than sending a nude photo. Awaiting that reply, and dissecting the words enclosed took courage. There’s a reason we still rely on the phrase, “reading between the lines.”

Among the many great songs written by Charlie and Ira Louvin is a mournful waltz with lyrics that fit a sad and lonesome letter. Because so many of their songs were written about soldiers far from home, I can’t help but imagine the anguished voice in this song belongs to a guy in a foxhole somewhere who can’t do anything but scribble his desperate words, wait and wonder.

Lorene (written by Charlie and Ira Louvin)
Performed by the Louvin Brothers

Lorene, write me a letter
Answer the last one that I wrote to you
Lorene, I hope you’re still waiting
But your last letter is way overdue

I know many times you have started to write
Darling I wonder what’s taking your time
Lorene, you seem to be near me
But your last letter is way overdue

Lorene, stop me from hurting
All it would take is a letter from you
Lorene, you said I could trust you
But your last letter is way overdue

If you’ve found another since I went away
Don’t let me return for it’s best that I stay
Lorene, I feel I have lost you
For your last letter is way overdue

There’s something in the song that suggests that even as he writes the words, he knows the reason she hasn’t written back. That long overdue letter is going to be toughest one he’ll ever have to read, and all he can do is sit and wait for it to arrive.

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